Back to where this whole mess started, Duluth and Grandma's marathon. Thanks to Drew, my old college ROOMMATE I got bamboozled into running while at UMD. I can spare you the details but obviously it involved a girl and we were signed up for a 5k or 5 mile run before we even knew what was going on. Can't remember the exact distance but I do remember how the training started. "Let's run to the next light pole and walk," was what our training plan consisted of. On the Lake Walk in Canal Park, that was probably like 1/10th of a mile only! That initial 5k or 5 mile whatever it was turned into 10k, 10 mile and half marathons. THen came marathons and a few years ago a sprint triathlon. Now I have 22 marathons, 19 half marathons, 5 70.3 IRONMANs and 2 140.6 IRONMANs under my belt, woof!
The night before tradition or maybe just due to SUPERSTITION had me enjoying a cheeseburger and beer at Tavern on the Hill up by UMD. Between the memories and the fact that it was cheap I was staying at the dorms at UMD for race weekend. Sure enough, got to stay in Griggs, the same building I stayed at freshman year! After enjoying the burger and beer it was time to get some sleep. It's amazing what a rested body can do! The real perk of staying at the dorm was they had a shuttle leave right from UMD and took us to the start in Two Harbors so I got to sleep in as long as possible. Think I boarded the bus around 6am and proceeded to take a nap on the ride up the old highway. Not because I was tired but I can't stand how people talk before the race. It's always the same crap. "My training didn't go well" or "I pulled/twisted my whatever last week" or the famous "I signed up when I was Drunk" those stories make me want to vomit! Like respect the distance, run with guts or just stay home people. Ok, little harsh. Just embrace the fact that running 26.2 miles sucks and is painful but crossing that finish line makes up for EVERYTHING!!!
Pre race jitters or nerves don't really exist after 20+ marathons so I get to spend my morning just chilling out and trusting my training and experience. While others are having panic attacks over the crazy long lines for the porta potty, I just hang out in the corner of the Sonju parking lot and line my ass up in the corral. As we wrapped up the National Anthem, for the first time in a few years we got a special treat. We had a few F-16 fighter jets fly over the race course as part of the 148th Fighter Wing AKA "Bulldogs" which was pretty flippin' cool!
The race started and after running about 3 miles I realized I made the mistake wearing too much clothes! Rather than creating a tripping hazard, I just pulled off the side and threw off one of my shirts and tried to spot the 3:30 pacer with no luck. I knew that pace was a 8 minute mile so I figured if I just ran about 7:50 miles I would eventually catch up, no need to chase them down right away. Even then, I really didn't look at my Garmin, rather just kept chipping away at runners knowing that If I kept gradually passing people, I would find the 3:30 pack.
Around mile 10 or so my legs were already on fire and tighter than tight. I tried to change up my form and focus more on my quads and just kept chugging away. I knew I would become tired or short of breath, that is never the issue with the amount of training and racing. It is always the soreness and over use that bites me in the ass. This put me in a spot to just find and maintain the 3:30 group through mile 20 and just see where things went. At this point we are basically at the outskirts of Duluth and it is the start of the frat and sorority housing. For those Grandma's newbies, that equals the part of the race course that you have the opportunity to drink a beer or take a shot if you want to. Back to the whole tradition and superstitious thing, of course I took a quick drink and proceeded to chase down that bridge and finish line.
I hadn't looked at my Garmin more than a few times the whole race and to be honest, never looked at the time, just my pace. At mile 25 as we went down a slight downhill by the depot I glanced at my time. Sure shit it was 3:21 and some change with just over a mile to go. I hard a forking chance at a PR! Legs were toast and we had a head wind off the harbor and every part of me wanted to coast in. I used every once of energy I had and pushed a sub 7:40 pace for the last mile to sneak in at 3:29:42! Not only a marathon PR but a sub 3:30 marathon! I had been chasing a sub 4 hour marathon for years and there it was, attempt number 22 that brought a sub 3:30!!! It may only be by a few seconds but who forking cares, I sure don't.
I hadn't gone on a long run since Fargo Marathon, maybe 16 or so miles was the longest. Some more speed runs and...IRONMAN Wisonsin 70.3 two weeks prior. Not your typical training plan at all. If you ever want training advice from someone, just don't do what I do. Like, I feel like I could write a book on what not to do in regards to training. In a 5 week span, I ran Fargo Marathon, IRONMAN Wisconsin 70.3 and Grandmas Marathon. Fargo I broke my PR my 13 minutes, at Madison I broke my 70.3 PR by 22 minutes and then got my sub 3:30 at Grandmas. Only explanation I have is my body performs well off of burgers and beer.
BLAKE'S RECIPE FOR SUCESS: CONSUME BURGERS & BEER AND RUN WITH GUTS AND YOUR HEART WHEN YOUR BODY BECOMES WEAK. EMBRACE THE SUCK AND RACE WITH A SMILE.
Kudos to: Tribe Racing, Wattie Ink Hit Squad, Garmin, Jake's Bikes, Asics and all those people who know I'm crazy and still support me anyways!
WORK HARD. STAY HUMBLE. A LIFE FILLED WITH SWIM, BIKE & RUN. 5Ks TO MARATHONS, SPRINT TO IRONMAN 140.6